An invisible problem that some people struggle with is being deaf. Some people are born deaf and for others it can develop suddenly or slowly over time.
It is another world and culture. I have in a previous role been responsible for overseeing meetings of deaf churches and can recall at some meetings being completely out of it whilst people communicate around the table in their own language!
A significant problem is how many organisations, and sadly I have to include many churches, simply do not attempt to include those who are deaf.
Many places do at least have a loop system, a system by which hearing aid users can tune into what is being said – provided the leaders are using the microphone.
I get really, really frustrated with people who upon being presented with a microphone insist that they have a loud voice and refuse to use it, missing the point entirely!
I have also been at meetings where someone who is quite deaf asks the leaders to speak up, who do initially but then let their voices drop to the same level inaudible to those who made the request in the first place!
Knowing that someone is deaf should mean a speaker follows simple rules, like making sure he is facing the light so that lips can be seen for lip readers. Not covering your mouth while you speak is a simple rule.
A bone of contention for lip readers is also beards and moustaches on men!
Not turning heads away from those hard of hearing is also a basic rule.
Being aware of background noise for hearing aid users is also helpful.
With all the publicity on disabilities these days it is surprising just how ignorant people can be of the needs of the deaf until you actually come into contact with it via a family member or friend, or indeed yourself!
So a group of us have got together from Eastbourne churches who want to encourage Deaf BSL users, lip readers, those with levels of hearing loss, church leaders and any others who are interested, to arrange an event on Saturday September 16, 10am to 2:30pm at Victoria Baptist Church, Eldon Road, Eastbourne for an event called Dear Church, Can You Hear Me?
There is a website you can visit at www.hellochurch.co.uk for more information.
There is a whole deaf culture which is whacky, quirky and amazingly fulfilling, but there is also an incredible frustration with the rest of society which simply fails to engage with them.
Wouldn’t a bit of better integration be good?
Let’s hear it for the deaf!